Most people probably find the so-called Museum of Industrial Culture like I did…they stumble upon it while on a walk in Moscow’s Kuzminki Park.
Situated off a road near the edge of the large park in the industrial south-east of Moscow, the museum is barely noticeable were it not for a small metallic sign that stands on the road.
Unlike many museums in Moscow, it is not based in a classical-styled building and there are no ticket booths or guards.
There are no lines or crowds of people on weekends like you see outside the Pushkin and Tretyakov Museums.
It is not owned by the Russian Federal Government, the Moscow City Government or a wealthy family.
The Museum of Industrial Culture is a museum in name only.
With buses, taxies, ambulances and train wagons scattered around the outside of the ‘museum,’ it looks like a metal scrap yard at first take.
Upon entering its building – which feels like a warehouse – you feel you have walked into the world of an obsessive collector.
Part of the enjoyment for visitors – who don’t have to pay, but are asked to leave a donation – is the treasure hunt aspect. Unlike in most museums, you have no idea what you are going to find when you take your next step.
There are dozens of old TVs, computers, bicycles, irons, radios, motorcycles, mobile phones piled in rows without names or dates to identify them.
Then there are some random things like a drawing of Hemingway, a plane engine, a large model airplane handing from the roof, Lenin paintings and US license plates.
According to Lev, the ‘museum’s’ director, this building – part of a former factory – doesn’t even exist in Moscow’s database.
And as of this month, it may not exist in reality.
According to Lev, the museum’s unusual history dates back to the 1990s, when a Moscow-based publisher ‘Auto Review’ gathered together a collection of old cars.
Lev said that in 2000, Auto Review signed a deal with the Moscow City government to build a new museum dedicated to cars and some industrial goods at Kuzminki Park.
Lev, who worked for one of Moscow’s auto producers, began to manage Auto Review’s collection held at Kuzminki Park.
For whatever reason, Auto Review never built the museum and it 2010, it withdrew its cars from Kuzminki Park, Lev said.
Lev didn’t want to give up on the dream of a museum and he took over the building and whatever objects Auto Review didn’t want.
Over the past five years, Lev and his colleagues Olga and Dmitry has been adding to the collection of goods … with the hopes of finding an investor.
Lev recently took in a passenger train wagon with engine that was discovered in a village about 400 kilometers from Moscow. He also picked up a 1980 Soviet personal computer.
However, last August, the city government issued him a notice that he would have to leave the premises, which Lev doesn’t pay for.
According to the law, Lev said the city can extend it for a year, meaning that he would have to leave by this August.
Considering the current economic crisis and the state of the collection, there is little chance of Lev finding an investor.
The collection itself may be worth tens of thousands of dollars if not more….were it fixed up and dusted.
Lev admits he has nowhere to relocate the objects to if he is forced to move. Even if he did, he may not have the money to have the objects relocated.
The train wagon and trucks would require heavy haulers to move them.
Considering Moscow City’s aggressive park refurbishment program, it is hard to image that the Museum of Industrial Culture will be allowed to stay at this location.
The fate of the museum and its objects will likely be shortly known. See the full photo gallery here.